I was looking to interview a woman for the next fashion article. Meghan Ralston (of the famous TheHot17.com) turned me on to Amee BellWanzo. I am really glad I caught Amee tear down the Off Ramp Stage at Comfest with Black Eyed Betty, this girl has some pipes! As I walked up to the tent on that sweaty day, her band was rocking a Tool cover and that is no easy feat. I met Amy for lunch near her work at Panera about a month ago. Here is what she had to say about her fashion sense, her journey through music, and her efforts to help local cancer survivors.
Chris: What would you say is your bands style musically?
Amee: I sing for two bands. Black Eyed Betty is kind of a punk/metal sort of band. My band mates are big fans of 80′s metal so we have kind of a retro vibe. It’s fun energetic and kind of in your face. The other band that I started more recently is called Trashetti and it’s an all girl super group with members of Rosehips and the Compressions. We have kind of like a surfer-billy sound and I play guitar in that band as well as sing, we’ve got a busy summer shaping up already.
Chris: Have you always played guitar?
Amee: No I just started playing guitar for Trashetti, I previously just fronted the bands I have been in.
Chris: What is your personal style?
Amee: I kinda go hard edge with a girly touch, I’ll wear like a black t-shirt or something with a frilly skirt.
Chris: How is this different from what you wear normally?
Amee: Well I have to go to a day job which is pretty casual, I am wearing a skull t-shirt today. I don’t have to wear a suit or anything but I’d probably skip the fishnets and the hot pink platform hi-heels. I am lucky enough to be pretty laid back at work though, which is nice.
Amee: I definitely notice other people wearing great , I’m a bit of a people watcher. There are certain people I look up to I think Alison Mosshart has the most awesome fashion sense, she sings for the Kills and Dead Weather. She’s always laid back and she doesn’t look like she’s trying too hard which I like.
Chris: How does it differ when it comes to music being a woman? Is there more pressure?
Amee: There is kind of a little bit, I feel like being a woman you have to dress up a little bit more, people are paying more attention.
Chris: If it’s a girl, I’m so much more judgemental and I don’t know why.
Amee: Yeah, like dudes look good wearing jeans and a t-shirt you know and they can still roll out of bed and look totally rock and roll. I feel like women maybe have to put more thought into it.
Chris: What about pressure being a woman, sex sells they always say, your thoughts?
Amee: I’ve noticed certain singers, you can tell they try too hard. I try not to be overly sexy everyone wants to be a little sexy but I try not to be all cleavagy. I don’t want people to pay more attention to that than what I’m singing, so it’s a fine line to try to straddle.
Chris: How does the preparation differ?
Amee: Well, I definitely put on more eyelyer,,,well actually I don’t know if I do
Chris: I think I did see some guyliner in those photos.
Amee: Yeah there’s definitely some guyliner going on, but I think I put a little more lipstick and eyeliner than on a normal day.
Chris: Does the venue come into consideration when preparing?
Amee: Yeah it kinda does, we’ve played quite a few really punk shows recently and so if we are playing at Bernies or something we might kinda grunge down but if we are playing at Skullys it’s a bit different. Really it depends on the ohter bands we’re playing with I think.
Chris: How has your fashion evolved through the years Did you ever go through a phase that you regret?
Amee: I feel like I’m always in a phase of some sort but it just transitions over time. When I first started working I was definitely more career focused so I probably didn’t dress as edgy. The job I worked at I had to dress up every day so it was hard to maintain two wardrobes. I’m definitely not a corporate style person so that could be considered regrettable.
Amee: One of my favorties is Rag-O-Rama I love going there. When I’m looking for more girly things there is a boutique in Short North called Emperor’s New Clothes they have fun skirts, tops, and shoes that are really girly. They also have some rock and roll accesories too so that’s cool.
Chris: What about out of town?
Amee: I am not a big shopper when I travel because there is so much else to do but I do a lot of online shopping. There is a brand called Iron Fist that I like a lot especially for shoes. They have like crazy hi heels and things, I’m a big shoe person. I have a really cute pair with skull jewelry on them which are fun.
Chris: What fashion trends in the music scene are you annoyed by?
Amee: You know there is a thing that annoys me actually. I feel like people should not come right ouf of their corporate job in their khakis and polo shirt and hop up on stage and play rock and roll.
Chris: Do your bandmates get encouragement from you?
Amee: They all have corporate jobs where they have to wear khakis but there is no way you’d see them come to a gig that way. They are all big 80′s metal shows so they rock the guyliner and Iron Maiden shirts. I like to see them dressing up cuz you know guys aren’t usually focused on fashion and dressing up. I like that they have fun with it.
Chris: Do you like any bigger designers?
Chris: Tell me about Columbus Rocks the Cure.
Amee: I am a breast cancer survivor I was diagnosed at 31, which I think is really young. Playing music just really gave me strength while I was going through chemo and all that. This summer will be our 5th Columbus Rocks the Cure actually. So Columbus Rocks the Cure really it just started out as a party. My band played with a friends band and we did it at Lodge Bar and we had a party afterwards with karaoke, drawings, and it was really cool. The next year was at The A&R Bar and it was bigger and then Skully’s. We donate the money to local survivors who are in need by purchasing gas cards and wigs for people who can’t afford them.
This past year we got the idea to do Fashion Rocks the Cure which is basically the same thing but in between the rock sets we had local designers show collections. They are all kinda rock and roll focused which is probably why I really lke these particular designers. The designs were just so bad ass. I kinda think music and fashion go hand and hand and It seemed like it would be something to do together so I thought what the hell?
Chris: Do they sell the outfits at the show?
Amee: One of them specifically showed a ready to wear collection. For the most part they don’t sell right off the runway but they sell on Etsy and online.
Chris: Any advice on fashion for people out their reading?
Amee: Wear what you like rather than try to follow specific trends. It’s not always easy to follow what people are wearing so…just don’t do it, and be yourself!
Amee will put on the 6th Columbus Rocks the Cure Friday July 20th at Skully’s which will feature a Hot 17 photo booth, plenty of great bands, and proceeds going toward gas cards and wigs for local cancer survivors. Please attend this great show and check out Black Eyed Betty soon!